Bradley Kaufmann's dream of going to the winter New York State Meet was dashed before he even had the chance to run. The East Meadow senior was standing on the starting line of the 3,200 at February's Nassau State Qualifier Meet when his foot slipped, ever so slightly, off the line before the starting gun fired.
While speed is the name of the game once the big boom is heard, complete stillness before that point is a requirement. Kaufmann's misstep disqualified him from the race. There would be no trip to Cornell and no chance to win a title. But, that winter disappointment quickly turned into a spring desire.
"The disqualification was all I was thinking about when I went on long distance runs or was doing hard workouts," Kaufmann said. "That was my motivation throughout the entire season. I wanted revenge. I wanted to show people how that can affect someone and they can still come back strong."
When it came time to take another run at a state championship berth, this time in the 3,000 steeplechase, Kaufmann delivered in a big way. He won the event at Wednesday's Nassau state qualifier meet at Freeport High School in nine minutes, 57.61 seconds. The finish qualified him for next weekend's New York State Championships in Middletown.
Kaufmann spent his day trying to stay hydrated, prepping for a race that was run in close to 90 degree temperatures.
"I was going to go for a PR [personal record], but the weather conditions prevented that," Kaufmann said. "It was not a fun day for running. You have to get a lot of fluids in you. That's the best thing you can do."
Kaufmann was alone in front for most of the race. The lack of competition, in addition to the heat, put a snag is his desire to run under a five minute per mile pace. "It was a little difficult to run by myself," he said. "But, there's always next week at states."
The state meet will be the first of Kaufmann's career. In preparation, he plans to run 56 miles, split into eight per day increments, before making the trip.
"I'm just excited for the experience," he said. "Going to states is a great opportunity. I'm honored."
Revenge was also on the mind of Manhasset's Stephen Bourguet. With five meters left in last year's state qualifying 1,600, Bourguet was passed by his opponent. He had a victory taken out from under him and, like most athletes, he didn't like it very much.
When Bourguet crossed the finish line a winner in 4:21.96 on Wednesday, he let out a scream.
"Yes!" he exclaimed.
"After last year, all I could say was 'no,' Bourguet said. "This year, it's the exact opposite. All I can say is 'yes.' I finally did it."
This year, the Brown-bound senior found himself in a similar position as last, having to out-kick his opponent on the final straightaway.
"The last 200, I told myself, 'There's no giving up. Run all-out and you'll be done,'" he said. "It worked."